Christopher Owens ♯ One heart, one soul, one mind/Our eyes will not be blind/We'll see this rain come down without this sound/We can all, we can all break free/ In time we'll be dancing in the streets all night/In time, yes, everything will be all right/It'll take time but we're going far/You and me, yes I know we are. - Robbi Robb.
Two odd weeks of glorious sunshine was just what I needed. Now the rain is back, and I’ve slipped back into miserable mode. This month’s choices reflect that.
Paul Ferguson – Virtual Control
The first solo LP from the Killing Joke legend sees him preoccupied with the dumbing down of society and the ever-pervading grip that Big Tech has on our lives. Musically, it’s very in line with the more adventurous side of Killing Joke, with the drumbeats driving the songs and guitar/keyboards being used as ways to add differing colours and shades to the song. Ferguson’s righteous anger spills out in his lyrics. ‘Plausible Deniability’ is the standout track, due to its wistful melody and weary vocals. The album can be streamed and purchased here.
The Scientists – Negativity
With a gap of 34 years between their last studio albums (although, to be fair, they did split up for 20 of those years), Perth’s finest export since Rolf Harris (only joking) have released a record that does a great job of reasserting themselves on the musical landscape. Never just a straight up garage rock band, post-punk and noise rock influences come to the forefront of ‘Negativity’. While this renders it somewhat slow paced at times, consider it a starting point for more great work. The album can be streamed here and purchased here.
The Sabrejets – The Restless Kind
Belfast’s finest rockabilly outfit finally get round to putting out a new album after ten years. And what an album it is. Songs like ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone’, ‘Lightnin’ and ‘Faster Than the Eye Can See’ are some of the finest ever penned by the band, while the production highlights the hip swinging groove that always gets people going at a Sabrejets show. Highly recommended, and it is obvious Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach would be proud. The album can be purchased here.
Dead Mammals – s/t
Possibly the only two-piece noise rock band from Rochester, UK, this is one of the finest releases of the year. Dubby, yet driving basslines compete with guitar more akin to a saw than a riff maker and vocals that are hectoring, confessional and maniacal. You can tell this was recorded during lockdown! ‘LS-51’ is the standout tune, due to adding a little post rock into the musical dynamic and vocals that accentuate the paranoid atmosphere on display. The album can be streamed and purchased here.
Lip Critic/Omnibael – Split LP
Electro-punk and noise-rock join forces on this split LP to deliver an unsettling, at times inarticulate, but never dispassionate listen. Lip Critic throw in everything from drum n bass, grime and house into their sound, a sound which accurately captures the eclectic, yet disconnected feel of modern life. Omnibael employ a more industrial/noise rock take on their music, but it’s no less confrontational. Indeed, both sides pulverate the listener into submission. Great cover as well. The album can be streamed and purchased here.
Lingua Ignota – Sinner Get Ready
Described as “…an abrasive, unsettling portrait of devotion and betrayal, judgment and consequence, set in the severe and derelict landscape…”, this new release from Lingua Ignota sees her draw on rural blues, gospel and folk, all filtered through her propensity for overwhelming intense vocals akin to Diamanda Galas. The results are explosive, taking the power of tradition and religion, heightening the messianic elements of the latter and the suffering tales of the former. The album can be streamed and purchased here.
Gadget – The Great Destroyer
On the go (in some shape or form) since 1997, Sweden’s Gadget haven’t been the most prolific act in the world, but they’re an example of why people use the term “quality, not quantity” and boy oh boy, does this album epitomise that saying. Full on grindcore, with a finely tuned production that is clean enough to allow the chaos to shine, but never sacrifices the intensity for polish. Randy Oritz’s cover is textured to resemble a human beehive. It’s eye-catching, sobering and encapsulates the record perfectly, which gets you ready for a trek into work on Monday morning.
Trap Them – Crown Ferel
This is the most action filled 31-minute record you’ll ever hear. Not a moment is wasted, everything is on “attack” mode. The production is crisp and captures the intricacies of the band without sacrificing the power needed for the music. The cover is suitably bleak and eye-catching as well. The whirlwind of aggression, coupled with monstrous sounding guitar licks, feel like the end of days. Like the listener is being sucked into a vortex, from which there is no return. Utterly brilliant.
Harms Way – Posthuman
Active in some shape or form since 2005, Chicago’s Harms Way mutated from being a powerviolence band toward more standard, streamlined metallic hardcore. ‘Posthuman’ was their first record for Metal Blade, and boy, does it deliver. ‘Human Carrying Capacity’ gets things going by employing a very, very meaty guitar tone and a hammering midtempo that beats the listener into submission. The production (by Will Putney) is mighty. It feels like the band are playing right in front of you.
ST 37 – I’m Not Good
Psychedelic/space rock, when done properly, can obliterate the senses and the mind. It’s heavy, but it’s groovy. It’s based in working class rock n roll, but it’s aiming at the cosmos. These contradictions are essential to the genre. Recorded over a four-year period, ‘I’m Not Good’ (ST 37’s fourteenth studio album) has the sound and down to a tee, and although it’s obvious that what you’re hearing is a group of Texan misfits who love psychedelic/space rock, it never once feels like a
Godflesh – Post Self
No doubt about it, this is a concise, bludgeoning album that stands up there with ‘Pure’, and showcases potential directions for them to explore. It has everything you want in a Godflesh record and more: Broadrick’s anguished, distorted cries of stress and frustration. The drum programming. Classic Green bass rumbles, and ringing, almost awkward guitar melodies reminiscent of Killing Joke. Like a steamroller, it keeps going and flattens all around. It’s classic Godflesh, simple as.
OXBOW – Thin Black Duke
From San Francisco (emerging from the remnants of underrated hardcore weirdoes Whipping Boy), Oxbow deliver fucked up rock that encompasses noise, metal, jazz and hardcore. Recent albums would see their profile grow, and the weirdness channelled into other areas, but the records never lost that sense of adventure. Although on first listen this may appear to be an immediate album, it isn’t. What it is is the lads in Oxbow reconfiguring what was so good about them in the first place and finding new ways to express themselves, while still taking the listener on a rollercoaster ride.
⏩ Christopher Owens was a reviewer for Metal Ireland and finds time to study the history and inherent contradictions of Ireland. He is currently the TPQ Friday columnist.